Welcome to Delhi

Despite needing to hustle to catch my connecting flight at Heathrow, all went very smoothly on my three-flight hop across the earth. I hardly interacted with anyone as I miraculously managed to get three seats to myself on all three flights.

I do remember one  experience with turbulence. While  in the galley pouring a cup of water from a two-liter bottle, the plane started jumping. This caused me to miss the pour completely. The friendly flight attendant and I laughed simultaneously.

After flawlessly cruising through customs, I ventured outside and down a ramp to the Airport subway station.  There I bought a 20-minute ride to New Dehli Station for 80 Rupees ($1.79). This is an amazing value as the train is fast, comfy and modern.

From the ultra-contemporary train I could see a crowded highway running parallel. Dense forests took up much of my visible space on either side.  I thought:  A city of 17 million people has forests. Wow!  Lying beside this vast arboretum, we passed many buildings acting as urban housing projects.

While leaving the subway station, there was a concrete thoroughfare that had to be passed by foot.   Instantly, I felt very hot air while having to close my mouth to avoid the taste of rank urine.  The smell was unavoidable.  The unpleasant odor passed quickly as I found myself outside, between the subway and large railway stations.

Upon seeing the railway station and many Indian trains, I thought of Paul Theroux’s literature. There were people everywhere, and long lines of rickshaw drivers. Rickshaws are little three wheelers with motors.

I walked up to a booth and purchased a ticket. Drivers were hanging out and blocking my view of the window.   They were trying to charge me double the 50 Rupee ($1.12) fare that the official ticket agent wanted. It took about five minutes for the man to print the ticket that I had to sign through carbon paper.  There were three copies, one for them, me and the driver. I thought: This archaic system has gotta change soon.

I didn’t have to ask for a driver as there was a man in my face, ready to take me. He wanted to drive me somewhere other than where I’d requested but I lied and said,

I’ve already booked a place at the Smyle Inn.”

Booking, booking?”

Yes, booking!”

The auto rickshaw ride felt more chaotic than my taxi excursions around Managua. The man drove straight into pure chaos. There was no concept of a single file system trying to get out of the station. Everyone inched their way out without infraction. There seemed to be no rules, or at least I was oblivious to any order.  As there would be a lot of weaving, braking, and pushing on the gas pedal, I immediately secured my bags below, and held on tightly to the horizontal bar separating me from the driver.

We crossed a bridge, then came to the Main Bazaar, one of Delhi’s many huge and mobbed labyrinths. Driving on the left side of the road, the man managed to adventurously maneuver around bicyclists, bicycle rickshaws, other motorized rickshaws, cars, motorcycles, scooters, SUVs, trucks, taxis, pedestrians and even cows. Not only do cows walk around the countryside, they successfully forage for food in busy urban markets. Upon seeing my first cow here, I instantly remembered a time in grade school when I learned that cows in India are sacred. We’d miss people, different vehicles and big bovine creatures by what seemed like a hair’s width.

The man still wanted to take me to another hotel. It hit me: I need to start learning Hindi. I then focused on speaking slowly and clearly.  I was firm.  This ensured that he’d bring me where I wanted to go. He asked others in Hindi where my place was and eventually found it.

In hindsight, there are so many accommodations in this Bazaar that I should have just gotten out of the rickshaw and checked around. Then again, feeling utterly exhausted, I just needed to acquire a wired, temporary abode.


9 responses to this post.

  1. MICHAEL: I think the definition of adventure is in the eye of the beholder, except for certain things, like skydiving or hiking Everest, those are definitely adventures, things that I’ll more than likely never do. Sitting in a rickshaw thinking that you’re holding on for dear life when you’re really not as you trust the driver could be perceived as an adventure or not. Walking through the same Bazaar constantly avoiding something: Is that an adventure? Perhaps.

    DAVID: There doesn’t seem to be rules, but, as we drive and walk on the right hand side in the Americas, here it’s the left. Even the cows know perfectly well to seek food while walking along the crowded left as opposed to the right.

    SEANTONIO: Paul Theroux is one of the most highly esteemed travel writers. His most famous book is The Great Railway Bazaar. You can click on the link above to find out more about him. I read that book back in the day and I remember a lot of it taking place in India.


  2. Posted by Seantonio Verde on June 10, 2011 at 12:49

    Where did I just read about Paul Theroux?


  3. I heard India is the world’s worst for driving and I saw pictures of around 10 people holding onto a car getting a lift from a co-worker. Have a GREAT drift. I’m virtually on board.


  4. I may just quote your line adventurous by default“.
    Have a great adventure!


  5. SARACENA: One thousand thanks for your thoughts.

    CHERRY: The Rickshaw ride was one of my most adventurous modes of transport to date, anywhere. I’d recommend an India Rickshaw excursion to anyone who loves amusement park rides. One difference with the rickshaw is that if something goes wrong and the thing crashes and you get hurt, I doubt there’s anyone to sue or cover your medical expenses.


  6. Let the drifting begin again. I look forward to reading about your Indian adventures.


  7. Posted by saracena8 on June 9, 2011 at 16:29

    Glad to hear you made it safe and sound. Enjoy!


  8. ANNIE: Thanks! I think that India is adventurous by default. I’ve never been to a place as unique/different as this, which makes sense as I’ve never been to South or Central Asia.

    As for safety, bug spray is important although I’ve barely noticed any mosquitoes yet. I suppose it’s possible to get Malaria anywhere in India.
    I just had a conversation with a Brit who’s been here for five months, he said: Often in India you’ll have to eat with your hands. Don’t forget to wash your hands with sanitizer before touching your food.
    The third thing I’ve noticed about safety is to be alert while walking in the Bazaar in the evening as I don’t want to get hit, scraped or run over by an array of different types of vehicles, although it’s not as dangerously crowded during the 105º plus day.


  9. Posted by Annie on June 9, 2011 at 11:46

    I hope you have another wonderful adventure! Take Care and Be Safe!


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